ACT
NEAR HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 2007
From a nomination list that began with nearly 80 of the region's best and brightest stock car racing stars from the past, the NEAR Hall of Fame class of 2007 has been
released. Several are ACT affiliated...

The New England Antique Racers Hall of Fame celebrates its 10th anniversary with a "class" that, conservatively, represents over a thousand victories and two-dozen championships.

Two active drivers, the sensational Bentley Warren, a recent winner at Oswego Speedway, and current NASCAR Busch East competitor Dave Dion, head up the list of inductees.

Canadian driver Jean Paul Cabana, one-time car owner and Westboro Speedway promoter the late John Falconi Sr., car builder/crew chief Bob Johnson, successful car owner and Northeastern Midget Association president John McCarthy, accomplished Connecticut driver Bob Potter and multi-talented driver John Rosati will also be inducted at the La Renaissance Banquet Hall in East Windsor, CT on Sunday afternoon, January 28, 2007.

The Veterans Committee selections and the INK, Inc-sponsored Jack Ratta Media Awards are still to be announced.

Tickets are $40 and an application form will soon be on the New England Antique Racers website (near1.com).

A two-time Indianapolis 500 starter, Warren is among New England's most accomplished racers. Six Oswego Classics and two Little 500s are on a win list that started in 1957 at West Peabody (MA). It currently includes 34 tracks in 12 states plus Canada. The first of his championships came in 1962 when he ruled the Class Bs at the Pines and Hudson. The latter list now includes multiple Star Speedway, Oswego Speedway, New England Super Modified Racing Association and ISMA
crowns.

Cabana, a fierce but fun-loving competitor, was part of the wide-open 1960s and 70s. He began crossing the boarder in the late 1950s and found immediate success at Airborne Speedway (the 1961 champion) in New York and Vermont's Thunder Road and Catamount Stadium (four titles). His travels took him up and down the Eastern Seaboard including Daytona Beach where he scored impressive finishes in 1961 and again in 1974.

Boston-born, many see Dion as New England's most accomplished Late Model driver. Beginning in the early 1960s - his first championship came at Norwood Arena in 1972 - his resume includes the 1976 NASCAR North and the 1996 NASCAR Busch North championships. Always associated with the Berlin City Ford #29, he spent a season on the old NASCAR Grand National circuit.

Falconi helped field cars for legends like Joe Ross, Billy Tibbert and Fred Borden and later Reino Tulonen and Joe Cast at Thompson, Westboro, West Peabody, Medford, Norwood, and Hudson among others. He became involved as a promoter at Westboro, Brookline and Thompson in the early 1960s, Thompson's World Series among his innovations. He backed away for a while but returned to promote Westboro, which he owned, in '65 and remained there until the track's sale in the mid80s.

Rosati established himself in Modifieds, Pro Stocks and Late Models, winning championships in all three. After winning the Westboro Speedway Late Model title as a rookie in 1969, he moved to the NASCAR North Late Model with much success notably at Catamount Stadium. Switching to the Modifieds, he was a contender at Stafford and Thompson and won back-to-back titles at Riverside Park in 1985-86. He had similar success in Pro Stocks, capturing a title at Monadnock.

In Southern New England, mention the number 51 and the immediate response is Bob Potter. Starting at Waterford Speedbowl in 1962, Potter began winning in 1966 and before it was over captured 11 championships an estimated 140 features at Stafford, Thompson and Waterford. A model of consistency, he ran a streak of 37 straight top-six finishes at Stafford in 1994-95.

Johnson helped New England celebrate one of its grandest moments, "crew chiefing" Ron Bouchard's winning car at the 1981 Talladega 500. A southern New England product, he and Bouchard teamed to win the '73 Stafford crown. He went to NASCAR North, winning the '85 title with Randy LaJoie before heading south with the Race Hill Farms entry, wrenching cars for a number of top guns including Ken Schrader and Satch Worley.

McCarthy helped to establish the image the Northeastern Midget Association continues to hold as a car owner and officer. With drivers Lou Fray and Dave Humphey he won many features and three owner championships. As president in the 1960s and 70s, he brought about a partnership with other forms of a racing that enabled the Midgets to survive. He also "opened up" the sport with his role in the introduction of the Badger.